Toolkit for the development of palliative care in the community

Professor Scott A Murray, Chair of the European Association for Palliative Care Taskforce in Primary Palliative Care; University of Edinburgh, UK, explains the background to a longer article selected as this month’s Editor’s Choice in Palliative Medicine.

Professor Scott Murray

Professor Scott Murray

We live in exciting times for palliative care in general and for palliative care in the community in particular. The World Health Organization (WHO) in May 2014 passed its first ever resolution about palliative care. It called for palliative care to be integrated into health care in all settings, especially in the community. 1

Ten years ago Prof Geoff Mitchell and I decided on his patio, one warm evening in Brisbane, Australia, that it was high time to re-emphasise the potential of palliative care in the community. That night the International Primary Palliative Care Network was born.

Our enthusiastic band has grown over the years, meeting at palliative care and also primary care conferences to develop the strategic interface between the two. Now we have members in more than 40 countries in every continent and have, as a group, published articles encouraging countries from Singapore to Germany to Lebanon to develop primary palliative care. 2-4

Recently we were tasked by the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC) to produce a toolkit to facilitate the development of palliative care in the community. The World Organization of Family Physicians (WONCA) has endorsed the toolkit, and highlighted it at the World Health Assembly in May 2014 as a means whereby palliative care can be integrated into primary health care.

The toolkit’s development is described in our longer article in Palliative Medicine and is freely available via the links below. It is a collation of documents and guidance based on the four domains of the WHO public health strategy for palliative care: policy, education, implementation and drug availability. The resource highlights how palliative care in the community needs to develop alongside specialist palliative care provision to ensure adequate provision of palliative care across all diseases and settings. We also demonstrated great variability in community-based palliative care across Europe. This snapshot lays the groundwork for progress in all countries, and a benchmark by which progress can be measured.

This toolkit will help support individuals and organisations worldwide seeking to further develop palliative care services in primary care settings. Copies of the short toolkit in English, French and German are available to download (see link below). The toolkit comes with many active web links to documents which detail various helpful national policies, practices, and tools so that patients can be identified for palliative care (and then be assessed and cared for. Countries can learn from what has worked well previously in other similar countries to fast-forward palliative care in their communities.

The current strong WHO advocacy for palliative care and this practical toolkit should greatly help many of us to develop palliative care in the community. Do contact a member of the EAPC Taskforce in Primary Palliative Care if you would like any advice or support, and please also join our International Primary Palliative Care Network (see links below). And if you are attending the EAPC 2015 World Congress in Copenhagen please come and contribute to our Taskforce session on Saturday, 9 May at 4.30pm. 

This post relates to a longer article, ‘Promoting palliative care in the community: Production of the primary palliative care toolkit by the European Association of Palliative Care Taskforce in primary palliative care’ by Murray SA, Firth A, Schneider N, Van den Eynden B, Gomez-Batiste X, Brogaard T, et al. published in Palliat Med. 2015 Feb;29(2):101-11. 


If you are currently an Individual or Associate EAPC Member you have full access to the Members Only Area of the EAPC website, and the chance to download a free PDF of all ‘Editor’s choice’ articles and many other papers too.  Just click here, enter your email address and membership password and choose from the list of journal articles.

How to join as an Individual/Associate Member, or to renew your membership

  • Individual members are invited to join the EAPC or renew their membership here.
  • Associate Members – all current members of our National Associations are invited to join the EAPC or renew their membership for FREE. Click here.

Links and resources


  1. WHA. Strengthening of palliative care as a component of integrated treatment within the continuum of care. 134th Session of the World Health Assembly. EB134.R7 May. 2014.
  2. Schneider N, Mitchell G, Murray SA. Ambulante Palliativversorgung: Der Hausarzt als erster Ansprechpartner. Dtsch Arztebl International. 2010 May 14, 2010;107(19):925-.
  3. Murray SA, Osman H. Primary palliative care: the potential of primary care physicians as providers of palliative care in the community in the Eastern Mediterranean region. East Mediterr Health J. 2012 Feb;18(2):178-83. PubMed PMID: 22571096. Epub 2012/05/11. eng.
  4. Murray SA, Kok JY. Internationally, it is time to bridge the gap between primary and secondary healthcare services for the dying. Ann Acad Med Singapore. 2008 Feb;37(2):142-4. PubMed PMID: 18327351. Epub 2008/03/11. eng.


This entry was posted in EAPC Task Forces/Reference Groups, EAPC-LINKED JOURNALS, Palliative Medicine: Editor's Choice and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Toolkit for the development of palliative care in the community

  1. Pingback: International Perspectives on Improving End of Life Care | CMAJ Blogs

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